They are career politicians and neophytes, influential community organizers and persistent gadflies, radio station founders and a justice of the peace.
They are almost entirely men and come disproportionately from a handful of neighborhoods, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, and Dorchester.
The next mayor of Boston will be one of the two dozen people who signed up for nomination papers by the deadline Monday. Time has run out for any last-minute surprises.
None of the mayoral hopefuls hail from the salons of business power. There are no heroes from the response to the Boston Marathon bombings. And there are no prodigal sons returning home from Washington to capture City Hall.
“There’s no star power. It’s missing a Michael Bloomberg or a Rahm Emanuel, someone who comes in and just blows away the field,” said Michael J. McCormack, a former Boston city councilor, referring to the New York and Chicago mayors. “And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. For the most part, they’re hard-working candidates who were probably as surprised as anybody that Tom Menino didn’t run.”
A generation of pent-up political ambition burst in late March when Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced he would not seek reelection after two decades in office. More names of potential mayoral candidates were floated than balloons at a child’s birthday party.
Pundits pushed for a business tycoon, such as John Fish of Suffolk Construction. Some suggested US Representative Stephen F. Lynch join the fray after his failed bid for US Senate. Following the bombings, others suggested Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis would win in a landslide.
But Fish, Lynch, Davis, and many others will not run. Ultimately, two dozen people applied for nomination papers for mayor. But that’s no record: In 1967, 26 stepped forward.
“That’s it; we’re done,” said election official John Donovan when the clock struck 5 p.m. and the door closed at City Hall. “What you see is what you get.”
The 2013 list includes the county’s top prosecutor, a powerful state representative, and five councilors. One potential candidate helped launch a successful health center. Another pushed a community nonprofit to new heights. A third served in the Legislature and ran a major city department.
Some of the long shots include ministers, small businessmen, and a contractor who discovered his calling in working with children. There are the perennial candidates who have run for office without success. Others who pulled nomination papers have already changed their minds and will not run for mayor. A handful have lowered their ambition and will try a run for City Council.
Signing up for signature papers is not the same as becoming an official candidate. In 1967, only 10 of the 26 who picked up those papers made the ballot.
Almost as many are expected to fail in 2013.
“Anybody can sign a paper saying they are running,” said Lawrence S. DiCara, a former councilor who ran for mayor. “But there are barriers to entry. And the barrier to entry for mayor is 3,000 valid signatures. I expect you’ll have eight to 11 people on the ballot. I’d be surprised if there were any more.”
In 1983, DiCara was one of nine candidates who appeared on the ballot after 19 applied for nomination papers.
This year, campaigns must gather 3,000 signatures by May 21. Voters can sign multiple nomination papers, but a signature counts only for the first campaign that submits it to City Hall. The signature threshold is expected to significantly reduce the number of names that appear on the Sept. 24 preliminary election ballot.
By Monday afternoon, officials in the Election Department had counted enough signatures for at least two candidates to make the ballot: state Representative Martin J. Walsh and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. Several other experienced candidates had submitted large batches of signatures.
Other potential candidates — Lee Buckley, the Rev. Miniard Culpepper, William J. Dorcena, John G.C. Laing Jr., and Divo Rodrigues Monteiro — said Monday they, too, were gathering signatures. “We need streets where anyone can walk down without fear for their safety,” said Culpepper, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
Councilor Charles C. Yancey has been gathering signatures to run for both mayor and for reelection to the district he has represented since 1984. “I haven’t ruled out any options,” Yancey said, adding he may run for both mayor and council, a move he likened to US Representative Paul Ryan running in 2012 for vice president and for reelection to Congress.
No one in recent history has run for both mayor and City Council. Law would prevent a person from holding both positions. The city’s chief lawyer, William F. Sinnott, described running for both offices as "kind of gray area.”
“There’s nothing that specifically prohibits it, so the inference is that it’s acceptable,” Sinnott said. “My guys have been looking, but haven’t come across any precedence for it.”
Two other candidates — former city councilor Gareth R. Saunders and former state Representative Althea Garrison — said Monday they decided to pursue bids for at-large City Council seats and will not run for mayor.
Hassan A. Williams said he had surrendered his mayoral hopes. So has blogger David S. Portnoy , saying it cost too much money.
Three others — Frank John Addivinola, Christopher G. Womack, and David James Wyatt — could not be reached for comment. Perhaps they were out gathering signatures.
Andrew Ryan can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.